Congratulations! Dr. Free Ride at waagnfnp writes:
This week, I voted to ratify our new faculty contract with the California State University system. The negotiations for this contract were frustratingly unproductive until my faculty union organized a rolling strike that was planned as a set of two-day walkouts at each of the 23 campuses in the system. When strike dates were announced (and, we are told, with some serious political pressure behind the scenes to avert a strike that would have garnered national and international media coverage), the administration came back to the bargaining table with a contract the negotiating team deemed reasonably good. The vote this week should indicate whether the CSU faculty share that judgment (I’m betting they will).First on the list is that "University teaching is a caring profession." Thus, job actions like strikes are difficult steps for faculty to take since we tend to care deeply about the welfare of our students. This is a very kind view of faculty resistance to unions. I hope I will be able to cultivate such generous responses to my own colleagues' continuing resistance to unions in the future. However, as she notes elsewhere, caring about students and caring about wages and workloads are not incompatible goals. They are in fact intimately connected. Finding ways to clearly and creatively articulate this very real connection is a challege.
The staggering thing to me is that we went almost two years without a contract before we could bring ourselves to the point where we were ready to strike.
I’ve been reflecting upon this, and it occurs to me that there are certain features of a good many faculty members that make it hard for us to embark easily on a job action.
I suspect at least some of the resistance to faculty unions lie in much less noble sentiments. Competition and a culture that values the intellectual agon of academia is still very pervasive. Having a collective wage structure, rather than the current one geared towards individual academic free agents, takes away one venue for that competition. Plus, we intellectuals and free thinkers don't like to be reminded that we are also workers. Union membership makes that connection all too clear and drags us down from our imagined intellectual heights and underscores our connections with the rest of our co-workers on campus in the staff offices and dining halls.
Cultivating care for this community beyond our own research and our own students is an even greater challenge.